In a first for Suffolk County, the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District has opened a mobile COVID-19 testing site outside its bus depot in Cutchogue.
The site, organized through the Suffolk County Department of Health, opened Sept. 30 and operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays to service unvaccinated faculty, staff and outside contractors working at school facilities. It is also open to any vaccinated personnel who want to get tested, according to district Superintendent Shawn Petretti. On the first day, more than 120 tests were administered to employees from 15 different school districts throughout the county, according to a district press release.
The site was designed to provide a convenient testing location for school employees who need to be tested weekly under Governor Hochul’s Sept. 2 mandate that requires school staff in NYS to provide proof of vaccination or be submitted to weekly testing.
“When we learned that our non-vaccinated staff and contractors who work within the district were going to have to provide proof of a Covid test if they weren’t vaccinated, I became concerned about the potential hardship on our staff,” Mr. Petretti said.
And recognizing this might be an issue in other districts as well, Mr. petretti said he reached out to the superintendents in Southold and Greenport about it.
“I wanted to make sure we were in partnership on this, and they were supportive of the idea” he said.
The site was set up in a week and a half, Mr. Petretti said. The Department of Health has contracted with Baseline Health Management to provide the weekly testing.
Six other testing sites for school personnel have been set up across the county, according to Jennifer Culp, assistant commissioner in Health Services at the Suffolk DOH.
“The mobile testing sites are just one of the tools we use to help keep our schools safe and keep our kids in school, learning in-person,” Ms. Culp said. “We work very closely with all of the schools to make sure that policies are in place … Testing is a great tool, screening testing can catch the virus early and reduce transmission.”
The drive through testing site requires no appointment. Staff members drive up and scan a QR code which automatically opens the registration website on their phone. After they’re registered, they are tested. The test results are texted to those who took the test within a half hour of administration and tested individuals then forward those results to an e-mail the district set up specifically for that reason.
Mr. Petretti said the district plans to offer the testing “as long as the mandate is in place.”
“The faculty and staff of our school districts have been nothing short of outstanding during the duration of this pandemic and anything we can do as an administration to continue to work with and support them we’re going to continue to try to do and this is just one example of that.” Mr. Petretti said.